Monday, March 23, 2009

Among the Tuscarora: The Strange and Mysterious Death of John Lawson

Hat Tip: Tari

Marjorie Hudson, Among the Tuscarora: The Strange and Mysterious Death of John Lawson, Gentleman, Explorer, and Writer, North Carolina Literary Review, 1992

Text and Image(s) from Journal Article

[page 62]


THE Strange AND Mysterious Death Of

John Lawson


[Image from the North Carolina State Archives, Division of Archives and History]

The death of John Lawson, a drawing by Baron Cristoph Von Graffenried

by Marjorie Hudson

They've taken his clothes, picked the straight razor out of his pocket: one brave fingers it, touches the blade - bright blood springs from his thumb and he laughs. The pitch pine split by the women is ready, a clay pot full of splinters, and now, one by one, the women thread these needles into his flesh, pushing just hard enough to bring the blood, to press past the strange white skin to the devil underneath. The man stands quiet at first. Then he begins to scream.

In 1711, the Tuscarora Indians of North Carolina murdered John Lawson, sticking him all over with pitch pine splinters before setting him ablaze. At the time, Lawson may have been the best English friend the Tuscarora had. From his first encounters, he seems clearly to have respected them. And in his writings, he lauded their natural graces, admired their courage, and blamed his fellow Englishmen for their destruction.

Lawson's death was only the opening act of "the most deadly Indian war in North Carolina history" (Lefler and Newsome 27). When it ended in 1713, the Tuscarora as Lawson knew them were no more. Today, Lawson's book, A New Voyage to Carolina, remains our most reliable record of the Tuscarora and the other Indians of Carolina's Coastal Plain and Piedmont; his journals captured those cultures in prose just before they were wiped clean from their rivers and creekside settlements, leaving the rich soil salted with arrowheads that emerge in cottonfields after rain. To this day, farmers pick them up, slip them in their pockets, and ruminate over them, as if they are pieces of some compelling but unsolvable puzzle.

In May 1700, John Lawson, filled with the spirit of adventure, set sail for the New World, heading for North Carolina on the advice of a world traveler he had met by chance in England. By December, he had somehow garnered an assignment from the Lords Proprietors to survey the unknown lands of the Carolina interior. As he traveled, he collected plant specimens for a London botanist; he also kept a journal describing the New World plants and wildlife. Lawson wrote about them in such lush detail it's not surprising that a later plagiarism of his journal was entitled "The Newly Discovered Eden." But his most compelling records are those describing Eden's native inhabitants.

Gary Snyder says that when early explorers confronted wilderness and natural societies, they "had to give up something of themselves: they had to look into their own sense of what it meant to be a human being" (13). What he calls "the etiquette of the wild" requires that we "learn the terrain, nod to all the plants and animals and birds, ford the streams and cross the ridges, and tell a good story when we get back home" (24). Surely John Lawson did that; nearly three centuries after its publication, his story still makes fascinating reading, as it opens up for us the mysteries of the first North Carolinians.

Lawson treats the Carolina Indians in two sections of his book. In the first, a narrative of his first walking trip through North and South Carolina, he introduces readers to successive nations as he encounters them. In his journal entries, each nation is freshly revealed as a discrete social and political unit, with physical differences, special foods and ceremonies, clothing and housing, tall tales and superstitions. In his last section, he lumps together these distinct nations into a general portrait, "An Account of the Indians of North Carolina," in which he draws from his eight years of continued study and travel from his new home in eastern North Carolina.

[Page 64]

On 28 December 1700, Lawson set off from Charleston, South Carolina on his 59-day pilgrimage into the heart of the Carolina frontier. He traveled light. Packed into a single huge canoe was all of his equipment - guns, powder, some food, a religious tract, his journal, blankets trinkets for trading - and all of his crew: a party of five Englishmen, three Indian men, and one Indian woman.

Lawson seems to have been the kind of fellow who pops out of the bedroll raring to go, rain or shine. On at least one occasion, he was ready two hours before his Indian guide. He rarely stopped to rest, leaving slowpokes to catch up as best they could at the end of the day. The group covered, on foot or in canoes, an average of 10 to 20 miles a day - 30 on a good day. They never lingered long, stopping a day or two at an Indian town, visiting and feasting with the chief, trading a bit, hunting up some food and a new guide, then traveling on. Between settlements, they camped out in the woods, dining alfresco, often on turkey or opossum stew. For "a thousand miles" (more like 500 as the crow flies), they followed rivers and trading paths, from the South Carolina coast to the Piedmont of North Carolina, in a crescent-shaped trail that eventually turned back east toward the ocean, concluding between Washington and Bath, by the Pamlico River. For virtually every river Lawson encountered, he also found an Indian nation with its own ruler and customs; often the nation would bear that river's name. The Santee, the Congaree, the Wateree, the Waxhaw, the Catawba, the Eno, the Meherrin, the Neuse, the Sapona, and the Pamlico - all were nations as well as waterways.

Lawson's reaction to the amazing peoples he encounters is remarkably respectful for his own time and culture. He shows particular interest in Indian food, social mores, marriage customs, burial practices, and medicine men. He compares the demure Indian wives' ways favorably to those of some sharp-tongued Englishwomen; he finds sexual etiquette among a number of tribes amusing but oddly sensible. Marriage, divorce, and sexual favors are generally matters of mutual consent; the women are sexually liberated. He calls the religious men outrageous liars, yet painstakingly records their useful herbs and cures as well as the strange phenomena they claim to control. The Waxhaw, Catawba, and Sapona nations seem to impress him the most. For the Tuscarora, he shows a wry sympathy and a healthy respect.

Full Article Here:


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Sunday, March 22, 2009


Province of South Carolina

Contributed by Jo Church Dickerson, 1998.

Marion County, South Carolina

Genealogy & History

Regarding the information in the list below: The first name is the person in whose name the plat was recorded; the description is part of that given in the plat itself - the date is the date of recording, not the date of the survey; the final series of numbers is the Archives numbering system for locating the plat. It refers to the record series, the volume, the page number, and the item number on that page. You will need all of these if ordering the plat. If you find an error, please bring it to my attention.--Jo


plat for 450a in Craven Co; 1735/02/24

0009 003 0003 00075 00

BREMAR, Mrs. Elizabeth;

plat for 1000a in Craven Co; 1735/03/23

0009 003 0002 00113 01

BREMAR, Mrs. Elizabeth;

plat for 1000a in Craven Co; 1735/03/23

0009 003 0002 00113 02


plat for 650a in Craven Co; 1735/03/23

0009 003 0002 00191 02

HESKELL, George;

plat for 500a in Craven Co; 1735/03/24

0009 003 0002 00314 01


plat for 550a in Craven Co; 1735/03/25

0009 003 0003 00124 01

ATKIN, Joseph;

plat for 412a in Craven Co; 1735/5/30

0009 003 0002 00353 02

SMITH, Christopher;

plat for 415a in Craven Co; 1735/06/15

0009 003 0003 00030 00 (sic)


plat for 350a in Craven Co; 1735/06/16

0009 003 0003 00248 02

TALLEY, Alexander;

plat for 300a in Craven Co; 1735/06/17

0009 003 0003 00142 01

MAZYCK, Isaac Jr;

plat for 230a in Craven Co; 1735/08/15

0009 003 0003 00342 01

NERI, Peter Francis;

plat for 500a in Craven Co; 1735/11/01

0009 003 0003 00337 00

POOLE, William;

plat for 500a in Craven Co; 1735/11/03

0009 003 0003 00274 01


plat for 1000a in Kingston Township; 1735/11/08

0009 003 0002 00313 02


plat for 500a in Craven Co; 1735/11/09

0009 003 0002 00088 02

RAMSEY, William;

plat for 350a in Craven Co; 1736/01/07

0009 003 0002 00518 01

SERRE, Noah;

plat for 1047a in Craven co; 1736/03/10

0009 003 0003 00048 00


plat for 400a in Craven Co; 1736/03/26

0009 003 0003 00480 00

BOWMAN, Samuel;

plat for 135oa in Craven Co; 1736/03/26

0009 003 0004 00134 02


plat for 1250a in Craven Co; 1736/03/27

0009 003 0002 00447 01

HORRY, Elias Jr.;

plat for 524a in Craven Co; 1736/04/08

0009 003 0002 00308? 01


plat for 200a in Craven Co; 1736 /11/10

0009 003 0003 00452 01

ROCHE, Jordan;

plat for 1000a in Craven Co; 1736/11/19

0009 003 0003 00258 00


plat for 400a in Queensborough Towhship; 1736/12/17

0009 003 0002 00172 01


plat for 400a in Queensborough Township; 1736/12/17

0009 003 0003 00446 01

FORSTER, Arthur;

plat for 800a in Craven Co; 1737/05/02

0009 003 0002 00292 01

ATKINSON, Anthony;

plat for 1000a in Craven Co; 1737/05/26

0009 003 0002 00351 01

HUGHES, Meredith;

plat for 1000a in Craven Co; 1737/05/26

0009 003 0002 00416 02

SCREVEN, Elisha;

plat for 850a in Craven Co; 1737/06/22

0009 003 0002 00487 01

OWEN, John;

plat for 900a in Craven Co; 1737/06/22

0009 003 0003 00309 02

FORD, Nathaniel;

plat for 350a in Craven Co; 1737/07/15

0009 003 0004 00113 02

HORRY, Daniel;

plat for 300a in Craven Co; 1737/09/03

0009 003 0002 00316 01

HORRY, Daniel;

plat for 825a in Craven Co; 1737/09/04

0009 003 0003 00498 01

HEXT, Edward;

plat for 1000a in Craven Co; 1737/11/07

0009 003 0002 00333 02


plat for 600a in Craven Co; 1737/11/11

0009 003 0004 00137 01

HEXT, Edward;

plat for 250a in Craven Co; 1737/11/18

0009 003 0002 00418 01

BROCKINGTON, Capt. William;

plat for 250a in Craven Co; 1737/11/18

0009 003 0004 00130 01

WATIES, William;

plat for 350a in Craven Co; 1739/12/14

0009 003 0004 00094 00

GIBSON, Gideon;

plat for 450a in Craven Co; 1748/04/13

0009 003 0004 00510 01

(note from History Chasers, there are more names listed)

This is from the Marion County, South Carolina

Genealogy & History website, read more HERE

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Virtual Jamestown

Virtual Jamestown is an excellent site with a lot of information for researchers in the area. This page is titled, The Practice of Slavery.

The following selections use selected excerpts from wills, deeds, and the recorded minutes of the Virginia Assembly and Council to illustrate the treatment of African slaves and Native American servants and slaves in Virginia during the seventeenth century. The documents also reveal that relations between English and Africans had a degree of fluidity during the seventeenth century as Virginia developed into a society where race, instead of status, determined one's place in the social hierarchy.

Find the selections here.

Here is a page of Laws.

Find the home page here.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Speech by Powhatan, as recorded by John Smith, 1609

Why will you take by force what you may obtain by love? Why will you destroy us who supply you with food? What can you get by war? . . . We are unarmed, and willing to give you what you ask, if you come in a friendly manner. . . .

I am not so simple as not to know it is better to eat good meat, sleep comfortably, live quietly with my women and children, laugh and be merry with the English, and being their friend, trade for their copper and hatchets, than to run away from them. . . .

Take away your guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy, or you may die in the same manner.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Search for the Roanoke Colonists

In January 1608 the King of the Pasbehay and two Englishmen ventured into the territory on the south side of the James River, to search for survivors from the colony Sir Walter Raleigh had attempted to plant on Roanoke Island in the 1580s. Captain John Smith also sent out a search party. He said that in December 1608 he had tested the loyalty of the King of the Warreskoyack Indians by asking him to provide two guides to accompany Michael Sicklemore on a journey southward to look for the Roanoke colonists. Smith reported that the river Sicklemore saw "was not great, the people few," and that nothing was learned about the lost colonists (Smith 1910:410, 449, 474; Strachey 1953:91).

However, in 1609 Virginia Company official instructed incoming Governor Thomas Gates to make another search, for they believed that four English colonists would be found who had "escaped from the slaughter of Powhatan of Roanocke, upon the first arrival of our Colonie and live under the proteccon of a wiroane [weorwance] called Gepanocon enemy to Powhatan" (Kingsbury 1906-1935:III:17). Samuel Purchas, whose four volumes entitled Purchas His Pilgrimes or Hakluytus Posthomous, were published in 1624, said that Nathaniel Powell and Anas Todkill, accompanied by Quiyoughquohanock guides, were sent southward to search for surviving colonists. He added that they returned with the report that Sir Walter Raleigh's people were all dead. In the margin of his text, Purchas, who indicated that he had use of Captain John Smith's written notes, said that "Powhatan confessed that hee had bin at the mirder of that colonie and shewed to Captain Smith a musket barrel and brasse mortar and certain peeces of Iron which had been theirs" (Purchas 1624:1691, 1728). The chart generally known as the Zuniga map (1608) contains several notations that relate to the whereabouts of the Roanoke colonists. One is the site where "the king of Paspahegh reported our men to be and went to se[e]."


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